Wheaton College has taken a big step in the direction of inclusion recently, and you can find it in the Madeleine Clark Wallace Library. Past the crowds of new students trying to figure out the printers, one can find a restroom on almost every corner. However, no longer do we see the white stick figures on a background of black, the woman in her dress and the man not seeming to have any distinguishable clothing on at all. Now, when nature calls, a sign that says “All Gender Bathroom” marks the door. Many students may be wondering what that means, and we at the Wheaton Wire have the answer.
Wheaton implemented a gender-neutral rooming policy in the spring of 2010. Proposed by a group of students from the LGBTA Alliance, the policy was embraced by the student body and faculty. As many students have already experiences, co-ed dorms also have gender-neutral bathrooms. However, the terms gender-neutral and all gender are not the same. As explained by the New York Times, the term “gender-neutral” is likened to the term “colorblind.” Some people believe that saying “gender-neutral” denies that people identify with any gender. While it is true that some do not identify with a gender, it can be seen as wrong not to acknowledge the gender of those who identify with one. This is why the term “all gender” is more appropriate. It encompasses all genders without overlooking the fact that gender exists.
Before all gender bathrooms, finding a place to use the restroom was often a cause of anxiety for some students. Dani Dickinson ‘17, who uses they/them/theirs pronouns, stated that they are “happy Wheaton is creating a safe and inclusive space for students of all genders.” They also say that the all gender bathrooms “allow(s) people, who may or may not be out, one less societal obstacle to navigate. We all need to pee and choosing which bathroom to use should not a be a cause of anxiety. This is just one very positive step in creating spaces for people to be who they are.” Dani’s comments serve as an example of the support of many Wheaton College students regarding the all gender bathrooms. The next step for Wheaton is potentially to spread the all gender bathrooms to all corners of campus. The library is just one of many buildings on campus that would benefit from the inclusion that all gender bathrooms have to offer.
It is clear from the reaction of the students alone that the all gender bathrooms in the library are making a difference. People of all gender identities can now use the restroom whenever they see fit without fear or anxiety. This is one of many reasons why Wheaton College is a great place to call home.